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Writing Out Loud

Write to Learn Project History

Chapters (Jan. 1994 - Dec. 1996)    Write To Learn Phase 1 (Jan. 1998 - June 1998)

Write to Learn Phase 2 (Jan. 1999 - Dec. 1999)    Write to Learn Phase 3 (Apr. 2000 - Aug. 2001)

Writenet (Feb. 2002 - Apr. 2003)

Chapters (Jan. 1994 - Dec. 1996)

The Chapters Program was a literacy and life skills program that was developed for, and by, women on social assistance and funded by the provincial and federal governments. Sitting around her kitchen table, Deborah Morgan talked with students about what they needed from a literacy program to better meet their needs. Simple suggestions such as establishing class times around the realities of dropping off and picking up children from school were incorporated into the program. Involving the women in the design and development of the curriculum created a very relevant and successful program.

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Of all the activities the group did together, they liked writing the best. By writing and sharing stories about their lives with group members, the women found validation, support and a way to strengthen their self esteem, at the same time that they were increasing their literacy skills. As part of the project's final report, they chose their favorite exercises and put them into a handbook they entitled Writing Out Loud.

The Writing Out Loud handbook was distributed to 100 literacy programs across Alberta. It became an immediate success, selling over 1000 copies in binder form (with very little advertising) before Grass Roots Press published and redesigned the 2002 edition. Literacy workers responded so favourably to the book because they felt they had finally found a user friendly resource that would help them feel more comfortable and confident in their efforts to teach writing.


Write To Learn Phase 1 (Jan. 1998 - June 1998)

The overwhelming response to Writing Out Loud was a surprise to everyone. Why was there such a need for resources about writing? The National Literacy Secretariat generously funded the Write To Learn project to research and explore how writing was being used and valued in literacy programming in Western Canada.

After interviewing over 100 literacy workers, we found that writing was not a big part of their literacy work. We learned that a surprisingly large number of instructors were not comfortable with their own writing, and therefore were not confident teaching writing. Instructors recognized the value of writing as more than a grammar and spelling exercise but felt they were ill equipped to teach "creative" or "free" writing.


Write to Learn Phase 2 (Jan. 1999 - Dec. 1999)

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Writing Out Loud approach
to writing.

Knowing this, it became apparent that we needed to show people how effective the Chapters or Writing Out Loud approach to writing was. The next 12 months was spent travelling, delivering almost 50 Fearless Writing workshops at conferences and literacy programs across Canada. Deborah Morgan, her assistant Margaret O'Shea Bonner and students Sharron Szott, Alice Kneeland, and Barb McTavish took turns travelling, presenting workshops and sharing how writing had changed their lives.


Write to Learn Phase 3 (Apr. 2000 - Aug. 2001)

By the end of Phase 2 of the Write to Learn Project, word about our work had spread. Those who had heard about our writing workshops wanted us to come to their communities and other programs wanted us to come back to do a second workshop. As exciting as it was, traveling was exhausting and we felt we could not longer meet the demand for workshops. One solution to this problem was to train people from across Canada to become Certified Writing Out Loud Instructors.

The instructors
developed their own
mission statement.

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More Writing Out Loud!

In Phase 3 of the project, starting in November of 2000, 25 literacy workers from across Canada began a five month intensive online course based on Writing Out Loud. Instructors from eight provinces and two territories shared their knowledge and experiences about writing and teaching writing. They were learning about teaching writing through writing themselves. It was a very special and exciting experience for everyone involved.

The learning that took place was so exciting that the instructors felt they needed to share it with other literacy workers. More Writing Out Loud is the culmination of our 5 months of in depth study about writing, combined with the wisdom of the years of experience the Writing Out Loud Instructors brought to the training setting.


Writenet (Feb. 2002 - Apr. 2003)

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During the spring we held another training session. With a solid group of 34 instructors, communities all over Canada are becoming excited about writing. In order to keep the momentum going, we are creating a national online writing network we are calling Writenet. The grand opening for our new writing community will be in November, 2002.


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